In John 8, Jesus, early one morning, was sitting in the temple teaching. He had already been teaching that he was the living water, the bread of life, doing the work of His Father and he was the key to eternal life. The expert teachers and Pharisees, who were trying to live a good and God pleasing life, were looking for a way to kill Jesus. Well, nobody’s perfect.
They brought Jesus a woman whom they had caught in adultery. Did they know Jesus was teaching in the temple grounds? Did they know that this woman was having an affair? Strange, they only brought the woman, where was the other half of this twosome? Deuteronomy 22:22 -24 clearly says both the man and woman are to be stoned. So, these godly men confronted Jesus with this sinner. “What do you think Jesus?” Jesus bent down and began writing in the dirt. They continued badgering while he was writing.
Finally, he stood up and said, “Whoever has never done anything wrong gets to go first.” He sat down and continued writing in the dirt. Eventually, they all drifted away, beginning with the oldest. The youngest were probably reluctant to lose their chance to sharpen their rock throwing skills.
After a while Jesus stood up and it was just him and woman. “Where did everyone go? Doesn’t seem to be anyone to accuse you.” “Seems that way,” the woman said. Jesus, said, “Neither will I. Just don’t do it anymore.”
My question is, what did Jesus write in the dirt? I see I’ve gone on longer than I intended. Let me know what you think.
One of Martin Luther’s contributions was giving our work a higher purpose. Work is not simply labor and toil, but a calling, a vocation. That’s important to remember when our work and life seems meaningless drudgery.
Luther wrote, “What is our work in field and garden, in town and house, in battling and in governing, but the work of children through which God bestows his gifts on the land, in the house, and everywhere? Our works are God’s masks, behind which He remains hidden, although He is doing everything. He could give you corn and fruit without you plowing and planting, but that is not His will; neither is it his will that your plowing and planting is solely why you produce corn and fruit. But you must plow and plant and say a blessing on your work and pray: Now help, O God; give us now corn and fruit, dear Lord; for otherwise our plowing and planting will not yield us anything. It is a gift.
God is the giver of all good gifts; but you must act and take the bull by the horns, which means you must work to give God an occasion and a mask to work His work.”
From Luther’s exposition of Psalm 147
I had been engaged in a conversation on Facebook which touched on the political, over which we seem to have totally lost our collective sense of humor. One of the replies came back, “How Righteous of you.”
I think it was meant sarcastically, but I chose to take it as a compliment and then shared how I am righteous. I thanked the person and then wrote something along these lines. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit my faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus brings me God’s righteousness replacing my unrighteousness. Through Jesus, God removes my wrongness before himself and puts Jesus rightness in its place and gives me the credit.
The hymnist Johann Heermann wrote in the 17th century,
True righteousness by faith I gain;
Christ’s work is my salvation.
His death, that perfect sacrifice,
Has paid the all-sufficient price;
In Him my hope is anchored.
Thankfully the Holy Spirit was able to break through and for once I had some words with which to reply.
This morning I read the account of Jesus raising Lazarus. Stephen Mitchell wrote a reflection on Lazarus resurrection recorded in John 11:38-44.
From Parables and Portraits
He had almost reached the end of the tunnel when he heard his friend’s voice calling him back. The voice was filled with love, but also with sorrow and pity, and not so much fear of death as resistance to it, as if it were an enemy to be expelled or overcome. He had realized so much, during the four days’ journey, that these resonances struck him as odd, coming as they did from a man of such insight; struck him as laughable, as almost childish. All the dramas of his short, intense life were an instant away from being resolved, dissolved, in the light at the end of the tunnel, which was not a physical light-after all, he no longer had physical eyes-but a radiant presence, a sense of completion a million times more blissful than what he had felt even in the company of his beloved friend. And the sweet seductive drama of master and disciple, how childish that had been too, as if a candle flame needed to warm itself before a fire. He thought of his sisters in the old house in Bethany, of Mary anointing their friend’s feet and wiping them with her hair: the tenderness, the absurdity of the gesture.
The voice was still calling. He didn’t have the heart to refuse. He knew that, for his friend’s sake, he would have to postpone his disappearance, to hurry back down the tunnel and return to his body, left behind so gratefully, which had already begun to stink.
Greater love has no man.